The Freedom Within

  • The team created a design that reflects the transformation necessary to create positive restorative futures.
  • Lead Artist Jess Poplawski hand painted the design.
  • The audience at the dedication looks on with pride at the young women’s accomplishment.
  • Creating hope in youth makes a difference in their long-term success after incarceration.

Project Description

Designed by a talented team of young women at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island, the mural imagines restorative futures for themselves and other women who have been or are incarcerated. To create this mural, entitled “The Freedom Within,” the team of young women artists reflected on their personal experiences during an intensive public artmaking program, presented with the support of the New York City Council through its STARS Citywide Girls Initiative.
“The arts have increasingly grown as a powerful mechanism to share powerful messages inspired by personal struggles and challenges that can empower both the artist and spectator,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo about the mural. “Through public-private partnerships, we can encourage people of all backgrounds to tell their story in the most creative and imaginative way. The Freedom Within is a beautiful mural that will serve as a beacon of hope for the women at the Rose M. Singer Center at Rikers Island. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and a Member of the Committee on Cultural Affairs in the New York City Council, I look forward to creating similar opportunities that will uplift all women across the City of New York.”
The mural features a young woman in transformation. From the center of the mural, she gazes upward toward her future. Nature imagery surrounds her. Her multi-colored hair turns into rolling hills, her body swirls into whirlpool, and above her a ray of sunshine breaks through the clouds. The woman's hand emerges from the whirlpool, a rose in hand. 
Download educational curriculum (pdf)

Add new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Project Info

Fun Facts

Question about the Mural
What transformations have you experienced in your life?
The hand holds a deep red rose with thorns, signaling the struggles and eventual triumphs of their transformation.
Fun Fact
The paint used for her skin was mixed with a shimmering gold, which shines brightly with light.